Witchery asks for review after ad watchdog rules picture ‘sexualised’ children

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 9.18.51 AMClothing brand Witchery has asked for a review of a decision by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) over an image from a campaign which was deemed to amount “to a depiction of a child which is sexualised”.

The image complained about was a still shot taken for the ‘WitcheryKids’ campaign ‘It’s Our World’, which features a girl wearing the brand’s product and dancing and listening to music.

A complaint to the ASB read: “The still video frame image shows a young girl with legs apart wearing a short skirt that has been shot on a low angle that focuses on the models crotch. I find this image extremely offensive as a mother to a daughter.”

Parent company The Country Road Group (CRG) defended the image, telling the ad watchdog it was “disappointed” the complaint had been received, and said they did “not consider the imagery to be sexual in nature nor does it imply that children are sexual beings”.

The group said: “The image was selected as the still shot for the Campaign Video because the hero product in the model’s outfit, the t-shirt, is on clear display enabling the customer to see the beautiful patters and triangle detailing in the garment. TalentPay Pty Ltd, an independently owned, compliance and talent rights management company, employ the model used in the Image. To safeguard the welfare of the model and other children on set, a trained nurse from TalentPay Pty Ltd was on set for the duration of the shoot monitoring the wellbeing of the child.

“The complaint accuses CRG of sexualising children on the grounds that the Image “has been shot on a low angle that focuses on the model’s crotch”. CRG do not consider the imagery to be sexual in nature nor does it imply that children are sexual beings. The model featured in the Image was encouraged to dance and have fun and was not forced to hold poses that were not natural to her. CRG considers that the Image has been misconstrued in a manner that was not intended. ”

CRG also explained that when the complaint was received through the company’s Customer Service Department on April 5, the image was replaced as the still for the campaign video while an internal review of the matter was completed, but that review decided it was not a sexual image adding “CRG does not support the sexualisation of children, and rejects the insertion that it would intentionally convey children in this light”.

However, while the board noted the image had been removed from the company’s website and CRG’s response that the image was not intended to be inappropriate, it also noted that “the camera angle means that the image of the girl highlights the shortness of the skirt she is wearing”.

This resulted in the majority of the board ruling “that overall the image amounted to a depiction of a child which is sexualised and is therefore not appropriate”, consequently upholding the complaint.

CRG is seeking a review of the determination “as it does not consider the WitcheryKids image to be sexual in nature, nor in breach of Section 2 of the Advertiser Code of Ethics”.

Miranda Ward


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